In reviewed 177 leadership interview questions’ in preparation of this post. I was able to identify some important themes. These themes are important as you prepare for your job interview. You have been seeking that opportunity to find a leadership role and show what you can do. Think of all the time you have been studying and working on building your resume for this opportunity.
There are many different types of organizational leadership roles. However, it is not easy to find companies seeking to fill these positions from the outside. If you are lucky, you already work for the company. Most companies want to encourage and promote from within if given the option.
Having time to prepare for the interview is important. The question you should ask yourself is where to start?
I want you to know that I have interviewed for different leadership roles. Some interviews were more successful than others were. Those interviews that eventually led to securing a job were the ones I was prepared for and my passion was allowed to show.
The following leadership interview questions’ produce themes around personal, philosophy, examples, and the perception of others. By taking the time to read about these themes you will know where to devote your energy so that you are prepared to make the best out of this opportunity.
You will find that some of the questions spill over into other areas. There are a number of questions in each category to serve as an example.
First, interviewers ask these questions knowing that you may be uneasy. These questions are designed to make you comfortable. You are more comfortable because people enjoy talking about themselves.
Second, these questions allow interviewers to learn about you. What motivates you? What propels you to take action?
Because of the variety of responses, these questions are open-ended in nature. Answers relating to the position are better. As an alternative, you can provide justification as to why this type of environment is well suited for your work style.
Early in the interview, you should be getting comfortable. However, pay attention to your body language and be aware of how you present yourself to those in the room.
Are you often satisfied with your actions and outcome?
How do you best use your time and what disciplines do you use?
How do you approach complex problems?
Have you ever used your listening abilities to achieve goals?
Who was your best manager and who was the worst?
Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
What are your goals for the next five years / ten years?
What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?
How do you measure success for you as a leader?
What motivates you to be a leader?
How do you achieve objectives in a fast-paced environment?
What steps do you take to remain engaged during conversations?
What can you do for this company?
What experience do you have that would help you in this role?
What were your responsibilities at your current (or last) position?
Why are you the best person for the job?
What is most important to a company’s success – a good product or friendly, fast service?
Philosophy questions are get to know you questions as well. The difference is that this is a deeper dive into your essence.
Philosophy questions are not something you should blurt out during an interview. The purpose of these types of questions is to get you to think retrospectively. It takes time to develop a personal philosophy.
If you have not taken the opportunity to think about your personal philosophy in life, you should start with your values. Prepare for the interview by identifying your core values. When you have arrived at 3-5 core values, consider how they relate to the position or the company.
Interweave a story to express your thoughts is beneficial especially when it comes to the example portion of the interview.
One has to be born a leader. Or not?
What can we learn from our failures?
How do you motivate your team?
What role does leadership play for a manager?
What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
How do you motivate your team?
What is the most difficult part of being a leader?
What is a leader’s best asset?
How do you encourage the development of your employees?
What leadership style do you use?
How would you go about developing your team?
What leadership styles do you know and which one do you apply in your job. Why did you choose this style?
Example questions are concerned with the practicality and application of your knowledge and your experience.
Up until this point in the interview, you have been answering the “appetizer” section of the interview. When asked for examples, interviewers are asking you for the “main course”
Interviewers want to know what type of results they can expect from you. For this reason, internal candidates have the advantage. People within the organization already know that you can perform. However, you still need to vocalize and communicate events. Remember the people conducting the interview likely are not on the front lines so they have not seen you perform. You come with recommendations but interviewers need to feel confident when they make their decision.
The recommendation here is to think of two to three stories before the interview. Make these stories significant but general. Having chosen two to three stories, you can keep coming back to these examples. Each time, provide more information. You can also come at these stories from different perspectives, which will help.
Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills.
Who have you coached or mentored to achieve success?
Tell me about a time that you led an important meeting.
Describe a time you took a leadership position when you did not have the title of a leader.
What do you do when you are unsure about how to achieve the goals of the team?
Have you ever been a member of a successful team? What was your role in the success of the team?
How do you build support for ideas/goals with people who do not report to you and you have no authority over?
How do you go about resolving conflict?
Name a time when an employee disagreed with your directive and how you handled it?
How did you a handle a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?
How have you rallied your team in the past in difficult projects/tasks?
What is the most significant change that you brought to an organization?
Tell me of instance where you lead by example.
How do you organize projects and prioritize tasks?
Explain a situation where you made an incorrect conclusion. What factors led to it?
What methods have you used to gain commitment from your team?
How have you encouraged the learning and development of employees?
Perception question are another way to word questions from the other categories. Asking perception questions force you to take a different perspective on a situation. Think of perception questions as a way to evaluate you from a 360-degree view.
If you start hearing these types of questions you should try to answer by stating things you may not have covered. This is the place during the interview to stress some of the key takeaways you want to leave with them.
You will likely not receive many questions in this area. If you have a limited amount of time to prepare for the interview, I would recommend spending time in the example situations.
The fact is that many times interviewers have made up their mind by this stage. Their decision to higher you or ask you back for a second interview has likely been made. Conversely, they may also decide by this point that you no longer are a viable option.
What sort of leader would your team say that you are?
What do you get the most criticism about you on?
If your managers were asked to rate your leadership skills, how would they reply? What would subordinates say about your leadership style?
If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?
How would your staff and colleagues describe your leadership style? Give me an example to support your answer.
Leadership interview questions’ can be thematically placed as either personal, philosophical, example or others perceptions. If your time is limited, prepare for an interview by considering the example style questions. Interviewers want to know what type of performance you can deliver.
David Moriarty writes about leadership, life purpose, and cancer recovery. He is a teacher who works with youth. Previously he overcame his battle with cancer. Currently he is pursuing a degree in leadership.
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